Incremental Innovation

Early this summer I walked into my parking garage and saw that they had installed two Chargepoint electric vehicle charging stations. I turned around, walked back to our apartment building, and went upstairs and told the Gotham Gal that the moment I had been waiting for had come and I wanted to get a Tesla. That weekend we took a trip up to the Tesla showroom in the art gallery section of Chelsea and bought one. It came last week and we are enjoying driving a car built by software people. We may be late to this party but we are happy to be at it now.

This past week Tesla announced a software upgrade that offers Autopilot features. I’ve been wondering for a while now how self driving technology would come to market. Google has been working on this technology for close to a decade and I’ve seen driverless cars on 280 heading from San Francisco to Palo Alto. But who wants to get into the back seat of the first self driving car and let the car do its thing? Not me.

On the other hand if self driving technology comes to market feature by feature, the way Tesla seems to be approaching things, we can get used to it bit by bit and someday we will happily get into that back seat without thinking twice about it.

It sounds like it will start with things like highway lane changes and parallel parking (if there ever was a thing that machines can do better than humans that would be it). And over time we will get more and more autopilot features. And at some point the car will be driving itself and we will be fine with that.

This makes a ton of sense to me. Sometimes incremental innovation is better than doing the whole thing at once. When you want to change behavior on something as game changing as driverless cars, I think the incremental approach makes a ton of sense.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    interesting whether major innovations have already been made and are being drip-fed deliberately for consumer acceptance/behavioural reasons

  2. jason wright

    when cars first appeared they were preceded on the road by a person waving a red flag.we’re getting there.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Given how Big Tech has largely been in bed with Big Gov, and recent examples of governmental incompetence/malice (e.g., importing Ebola), I don’t know how comfortable everyone will be surrendering control of their cars to Silicon Valley billionaires.

      1. Harold Paratestes

        Will the driverless cars have the same anti-virus protection from hackers that PC’s have?

    2. Harold Paratestes

      Electric cars are preceded by Global Warming alarmists waving red flags.

      1. jason wright

        25% of cars in Norway are electrically powered. a big stat.

  3. Seth Godin

    I have a slightly different take on how the leap will happen:…Congrats on the new car, chief.

    1. fredwilson

      well that explains Google’s investment in Uber!

    2. Steven Kane

      the world of self-driving cars, and so much more, almost scarily well predicted by woody allen, in sleeper. watch it again, you will be very amused!

    3. Ro Gupta

      Thanks for sharing that — I had similar sentiments about just how transformational this will be: http://www.rocrastination.c….But even though I agree it’s going to happen quicker than most think, I don’t think that precludes certain things having to be deployed incrementally .. especially due to the human psychology factors at play. (Personally, I am ready for it to happen overnight — esp. when I get on the BQE.)

    4. Robert Metcalf

      The really interesting thing that starts happening when you have a fleet of self-driving electric cars is that you now also have rapidly-deployable storage capacity for the electrical grid. And it can dynamically relocate itself to parts of the electrical infrastructure that need the help.The battery in a Tesla S P85 is an 85 kWh battery (thus the 85 in the model name). For reference, that battery would power my house for an entire week. Even a bigger, thirstier house with the AC running could be powered by it for a couple of days. So, when you combine distributed generation (solar, wind, etc) with dynamically connected (and relocated able with self-driving) vehicle-to-grid battery storage, the energy industry gets massively disrupted. Can’t come soon enough!

  4. JimHirshfield

    Congrats on the new wheels. I see at least 3 to 4 a day in the suburban train station lot. Good looking car. And yes, software has always been better at parallel processing 😉

  5. scottythebody

    It’s probably the right way, but it causes problems for feeble-brained humans like me. My friend has a Volvo that will apply brakes and basically handles the “cruise control” feature for you even in city driving. That’s pretty cool, but I know that I would get used to it, then be driving a different rental car and smash into the car in front of me because I was expecting the car to do it for me.I already have this problem with parking. I have a “self parking” car, which is WONDERFUL on the streets of Vienna, where all parking is parallel and when I had an injured neck it was very difficult to turn my head to accomplish my exemplary, fool-proof parking technique :-)Anyway, I’ve already found myself pulling up to parking spots in rental cars and just sitting there waiting for the car to park itself and wondering “what the hell is wrong with this car?”Good call on the Tesla. With convenient charging options, it seems like a no-brainer for a city/regional car. Which one did you get? Model S?

    1. fredwilson

      so your car already self parks? that’s cool!yeah, we got the model S

    2. Dave Pinsen

      That’s not just a technology thing. Coming from a state where pumping your own gas is illegal, I once sat in a rental car for a few minutes at a gas station near LAX waiting for an attendant to come, before I remembered it was self-service there.(BTW: Safari crashed the 1st time I tried typing this – 2nd time in 2 days. Maybe an issue w/ the latest iOS?)

  6. Jorge M. Torres

    From the title alone, thought today’s post related to Zero To One. I wonder how bright a line exists between 0-1 innovation and incremental innovation. If you zoom in closely at the former, I bet it looks like a lot of compounded incremental, even imperceptible changes, that are barely noticeable as they’re happening.Have fun with the Tesla. My dad says you can’t have a nice car in New York. Then again, I grew up with street parking in Queens. 😉

  7. PhilipSugar

    I am Luddite: I like Audi’s self park commercial from a while back:…A fully driverless car would be cool. The incremental I don’t need. I find it very disconcerting when a car tries to brake for me.

    1. LE

      I don’t get the obsession with people having an issue with parallel parking. I mean I can understand if you are 17 or an old lady or old man. But not from people who spend their time trying to get the stupid ball in a hole or in a basket. I think it’s kind of fun to self park and get it right. Like a game and I don’t play games even.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I like doing it, just like I like docking a boat, or landing a plane.

        1. LE

          Took me a while to figure out the technique to dock a boat.When going into a dock (with pilons on the side) the idea is to go fast [1] so you can steer and then reverse thrust. To slow and no steering When docking next to a dock the idea is to swing the boat around and let the force float you in. Not to pull up along side of it.Not having anybody teach me it took me some time to figure that out on my own. But was very satisfying and fun once I got the hang of it. Same as flying RC Helicopters the fun part is “flying” not having it fly itself. (Same with sailing for that matter sailing much more fun than powerboat..) Especially when you get the hang of hovering (which the new electrics do automatically no fun..)[1] By “the idea” I mean “what works for me” I have no clue what other people do honestly.

          1. LE

            Hey no wake!That’s so cool. I didn’t even know they did things like that.I’m sure to someone who has never driven a boat they have no clue the skill required to do something like that. It looks easier than it is for sure.(The “Cinematographer” in me thinks having some hero cameras rigged up all over (boats, docks)) would make it even better. Also drone views..)Abomination? – hah – leaving fenders on the boat after leaving the marina or the dock.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Literally benefits the firemen.

      2. Matt Zagaja

        It was more fun when I owned a car that I didn’t care if I beat up.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        Yes, but what about people who have to parallel parkusing only the audio feedback method?!!

      4. realposter

        Some people are lazy – and MANY people just don’t have good driving skills.

      5. Cam MacRae

        All true. But I want everyone around me to self park.

  8. pointsnfigures

    Congrats. Now Gotham Gal won’t have to drive you. Agree on incremental innovation. I think movements are that way too. For example, if you want to revolutionize education-taking on the whole system is the wrong way. Taking on points where you can get a foothold and then turning those converts into evangelists will allow you to go faster.

    1. fredwilson


  9. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I try not to respond with envy – but today I must try that little harder :)I really hope you enjoy it, and what is more I hope you continue to feed-back into the debate as you go.The benefits of widespread autonomous transport will be immense, as will the resistance they face. Open debate will help keep the lid from flying off.And in case anyone is worried, so long as the mountains opposite get covered with snow, and I can walk (or take a ride up) then my preferred transport system that I would not swap will keep my green monsters at bay.

  10. Twain Twain

    What happens when the roads are a mix of driverless and regular cars? How will the insurance work? Does the car’s AI have the same gut instinct and peripheral vision that informs a human driver? For example, recently I saw a human driver notice a gossamer thin scarf that was floating across the road; it had come off the neck of an elderly lady who started to make her way onto the road to catch it!The human driver could see the gossamer scarf and braked immediately but would the driverless car’s sensors detect something like that or only obvious solid (non-fluid) objects?I’m waiting for the Tesla Hyperloop and tele-transporter.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      A law school friend wrote a note addressing this issue in depth:…I think it’s important to point out that tort law and assigning fault are a rather imperfect system of reconciling who is responsible for damage. Some cases may be clear cut (someone is drunk, asleep at the wheel, etc.) but there are also plenty of scenarios whereby people are in an accident that are true accidents. They could not have prevented what occurred.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      What happens when the roads are a mix of driverless and regular carsNot to mention all the low end models with their cheap economy parts, software and second-rate road mapping details?Applied to special fixed-environment use cases self-driving cars could be very effective but as unrestricted general use vehicles the whole thing seems like an exercise in technical hubris!Auto lane-changing and auto parking are great features but have little to do with the overly ambitious goal of a truly unrestricted general use autonomous vehicle.And most importantly, does anyone here know the record number of clowns that have as of yet emerged from a self-driving car 🙂

    3. PeterisP

      Humans are generally rather horrible drivers and would be expected to have more accidents than actually deployed self driving cars – i.e., your example is very valid and such cases will occur but we should expect them to be outnumbered by the exact opposite cases; the whole purpose of current AI-assisted cars currently deployed by major manufacturers is that humans drive better generally, but in accidents and danger prevention automated systems should take over since they react quicker than humans and see obstacles that humans don’t notice. A very relevant question is how should we handle accidents that are currently treated as a true no-fault accident but would have been preventable if, say, the car had better-than-human reaction time when braking; better-than-human nightvision or simply better attention (that’s probably the main killer on the roads now).

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Humans are generally rather horrible drivers… We haven’t had anything to compare them to. 🙂

  11. William Mougayar

    When my wife heard that the new Tesla will self-park and auto-drive, she asked when it will also buy groceries and make dinner for us too.I will wait for the version that comes with the integrated drone on the roof, so it will go on its own and have the drone pick-up dinner, desert and wine and bring them back. The car will circle around the block on its own if it can’t find parking, then the drone will find it and re-attach itself to the car.

    1. ShanaC

      but making dinner can be such a joy when done right

      1. William Mougayar

        It was of course a joke 🙂

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I actually thought it was a good idea.

          1. William Mougayar

            I would recommend it for take-out food though.

  12. Harold Paratestes

    You saw driverless cars on a highway? You would be afraid to be in one but you don’t feel the other people on the highway were in danger. Strange.

    1. fredwilson

      never thought about it that way

      1. LE

        Not really. The risk is more when you are in the car that is self driving in the sense that you are spending more time in that car and subject to errors full time. If there are a limited amount of self driving cars on the road then your exposure to them is quite small (and you can avoid them the the same way I avoid trucks or blow by them at 95 mph..)

  13. Steven Kane

    couple notes1) NY state is a terrific place to own an electric vehicle – you are switching from gasoline consumption to natural gas and nuclear, with a minimum of coal. NY state is a leader here, and should be an example for other states, most of which still burn coal to generate electricity (though new EPA rules will mandate switch over soon hopefully.)2) Respectfully, in what sense is a Tesla “built by software people”? I hope we can admire Tesla without having to denigrate mechanical and materials science engineers? Automotive innovation will depend on software of course — but Tesla has no more or less software in the product or the manufacturing than BMW or Ford or Toyota. What Tesla arguably brings to the table is a massively fresh look at mechanical, electrical and materials engineering. Probably the latter most, eg battery design and operations. I know no less than Marc Andreesen has the world a flutter with his notion that software is everything, but, sorry, that is a software VC’s clever marketing slogan at best. And at worst, a clarion call for young people to avoid the sciences we need. I mean, I doubt Elon Musk would argue Tesla is a software company. Its an automobile company, and automobiles are physical, mechanical, material things. We should be encouraging young people to study physics, chemistry, and mechanical, electrical and materials engineering every bit as much as computer science. Given the challenges facing humanity (carbon pollution, surging population without access to clean water and food and power), dare I say – even more?

    1. fredwilson

      i am just using his words. when asked about driverless cars and Tesla’s role in them, he said a week or two ago “we are software people, of course we will do this”

      1. Steven Kane

        makes sense re driverless cars. the big novelty the new tesla upgrade is bringing to market is… upgrades. over the air software upgrades. in pretty much everything else re driverless driving, tesla is playing catch up, eg to mercedes benz, which has been leading these efforts for years. tesla has decided to go forward with over the air updates to the software in their vehicles, a practice we all think is pedestrian, given our use of smart phones and tablets etc., but which auto manufacturers have heretofore been afraid of – they worry such upgrades will “brick” cars and they will be forced to have mobile service teams (instead of relying on car owners to bring cars into centralized service centers.) Tesla’s ownership footprint is so tiny, and they charge such huge premiums for their product, they currently arrange for a flatbed truck to go and retrieve “bricked” Teslas, at Tesla’s expense. Will be interesting to see if this scales, or just isnt a problem if/when software/hardware integration gets to five-nines reliability…

        1. realposter

          It’s not just Mercedes… Audi as well. They are both coordinating with civic governments in Europe to allow their cars to “talk to” street signals and traffic control mechanisms.

      2. LE

        “we are software people, of course we will do this”Sure in other words doesn’t matter if it’s the right thing to do or if there are problems or safety issues etc. Kind of like a father who is a football fanatic saying “sure my son will play football” regardless of head or any other injury potential.You know what? Musk has his hand in to many pots.And really big pots at that. More than he can handle at peak efficiency and brain power. And at least two of them are things where safety is a really big concern.You know all of that startup school, PG, YC, Sama “get ready for 24×7 own your life” mantra? Which applies to the proverbial non important “shitty photo sharing startup”? Well with the high level businesses that Musk is involved in imagine how thin he is spread.I mean name any big deal company that you know of where the head of it wasn’t all in to that one company if he was truly the magic wizard.From the Tesla site:Elon MuskCo-Founder, CEO, and Product ArchitectElon Musk is the CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO and Chief Designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

      3. sachmo

        I agree with the original comment. Somewhat insulting to hardware ppl…

    2. William Mougayar

      Steven, – agree with you. Some wonderful things can happen with you combine these fields together. Those intersections are new frontiers.For e.g, the new field of Mechatronics has been a popular and emerging one in universities- combining mechanical engineering, electronics and software engineering. E.g. the one at the University of Waterloo:

      1. dineshn72

        Sounds like a rebranding of Robotics 🙂

        1. William Mougayar

          I think it includes robotics. Have you heard of Clearpath Robotics, one of the coolest robotics company today? It came out of that school in Waterloo: http://www.clearpathrobotic

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Yes!Maybe software is not so much “eating the world” as it is “orchestrating the world” of established substrate technologies by accelerating their recombinant synchronicities.

    4. ShanaC

      except in LI – where the cost of electricity is the highest in the nation. sadly.

      1. realposter

        hygrogen and biogas powered cars… don’t count them out.

    5. realposter

      we need more hydrogren infrastructure for hydrogren powered cars.

    6. PhilipSmith

      We see a lot of the Google self-titled (proudly says so on the side, perhaps to get people to stay a long distance away) Self-Driving Cars around where I live in Los Altos as we’re a couple of miles from Google HQ where these things breed in prodigious numbers.Unfortunately.While I’m a big supporter of the general idea, just try following one of these things through town. It’s like being behind a really, really, really, really slow person who drives really, really, really, really carefully. Like following my grandfather – while he/this is “safely” driving everyone else is tearing their hair out. Of course, that’s better than than having them insanely racing about but I’d still like to get to the other side of town before I croak ….

  14. rich caccappolo

    Congratulations on the new car – I am most pleased to hear that your garage installed charging stations. I thought it would be a while longer before it happened here in NYC. Not sure I trust my garage – they have enough trouble ensuring the car is out when requested; asking that it also be charged might be a bridge too far… That said, having charging capacity is the sort of capability that would get people to choose one garage over another, overriding proximity and cost.

    1. fredwilson

      the garage makes money on the charging stations so hopefully they will have a vested interest in me using them

      1. Donna Brewington White

        That’s smart. Incentive helps.

  15. Elia Freedman

    You described Microsoft’s strategy through the 80s and 90s: embrace and extend.

  16. Salt Shaker

    How’s the Tesla feel in city driving? I test drove one a year ago and loved it (it felt like a rocket ship), but found the deceleration aspect when coming off the “gas pedal” to be a bit disconcerting, particularly in urban areas.Also, can anyone shed light on the insurance industries position on auto drive? Is it favorable or is it viewed as a potential liability headache? It certainly adds another dimension.

    1. fredwilson

      It is like driving a golf cart. It is pretty easy to get used to

    2. John Revay

      “but found the deceleration aspect when coming off the gas to be a bit disconcerting”I never tried driving a Tesla….however I do drive a Honda Civic Hybrid…Probably not exactly same sensation….but may be similar, if battery is not fully charged, you will usually feel the drag on the car charging the Batteries once you take your foot off the gas pedal.It bothers me to no end – when I drive a non hybrid car and I hit the breaks …..Friction > Heat. The car has over 110,000 miles and still has the original factory brakes.

  17. John Revay

    “…. and told the Gotham Gal that the moment I had been waiting for had come and I wanted to get a Tesla”I am happy the car got deliveredI recall seeing in one of your streams a photo of one of the charge stations, what struck me was the $ / kWh amount – was it something like $ 0.50/kWh …in CT are all in delivered rate is around $ 0.20 / kWh, the amount in the photo was CT I see free / high speed Tesla Charging stations at all of the new rest stops on the Merritt & I-95.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Does anyone know if those stations do the thing where the robot swaps out the battery in like 30 seconds? That’s something I really want to see in person.

      1. Kevin Schultz

        I was a big believer in that idea, but it appears to have died out. The startup behind it was called Better Place, and it has now gone bankrupt.

  18. SubstrateUndertow

    Does this incremental approach imply that in America these cars will at first be able to only autonomously turn right and in Britain will at first be able to only autonomously turn left as those manoeuvres would be less complex ?

  19. John Revay

    Self driving cars,Fred – I remember a few weeks ago when you and your bride were touring around Europe, Joanne wrote a funny post – Freddy is my Co-pilot…#Classic

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I thought I read a post with this title but guess not. Thanks for sharing– love it!

  20. Richard

    Driverless cars for the 50 year old is not compelling but for the elderly it could be a game changer. I can see shared micro-car clubs macking this affordable for many retirees.

    1. Tony Hue

      Interestingly, Google made this video where an elderly man who is blind taking a ride on a Google self-driving car. Great example of how this technology can empower people who otherwise would be left out.

  21. BillMcNeely

    Before another yet another Uber price drop I briefly thought about adding another car. I took The Tesla S for a spin here in Dallas. It was a blast. I really could not tell performance wise the difference between it and a 750 LI.

  22. Rohan

    I like the Ben Evans idea that firms that succeed in the future will need to be technology companies at heart. Car companies are learning that. Newspapers have learnt that. Now, it’s over to other industries…

  23. Matt Zagaja

    Yesterday I drove to Boston (there in the rain, back home in the fog) and parked at Alewife. This was my first time parking there and I noticed they had numerous electric charging stations but only one Chevy Volt plugged in. We have numerous electric charging stations in public places in Connecticut now. Someone is certainly working hard to reduce this barrier to adoption and I think it’s also great marketing for the vehicle segment.Start-ups dealing with physical goods do face these barriers, and I am now experiencing one with Warby Parker. As a supporter of start-ups I wanted to buy my next pair of glasses from them but research has suggested that the online tool for pupillary distance is not accurate which is fine at lower prescriptions but trouble after you go higher than +/- 2.00. Sadly I did not know to ask for this at my eye exam and my eye doctor merely referred me to the attached eyeglass store when I asked about getting it. Further research revealed a strong anti-online sentiment among eyeglass shops and suggested varying levels of comfort with providing this important measurement. I will likely work up the gumption to see if I can get a Lenscrafters to provide it to me but they may well decline (which is their right, it’s a free market) and I will end up buying my glasses offline.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        That’s very interesting. I’ll check it out!

  24. John Revay

    Unrelated to the Car and Elon,I once say a PBS special on Nikola Tesla, Master of Lightening was great to watch, Thomas Edison got the credit.

  25. ErikSchwartz

    You see the google driverless cars heading to the city on 280?I see them in Mt View and Los Altos all the time, I see them on 101 near Google Campus. My understanding was that they were primarily limited by the frequency that the super hi res maps they rely on are being updated and outside of the greater Mt View area those updates were pretty minimal.What battery did you get? Can you get to teh far end of Long island and back on one charge?

    1. fredwilson

      I got a 260 mile batteryI can get out and back and have 50 miles to spare but I put a 220volt outlet in my driveway in Long Island

  26. Steven Lowell

    I was driving back from Trumbull, Connecticut, and came across a rest stop with gas pumps and Tesla charging stations.With all pumps full, no parking spots, and no Tesla cars, people parked in the tesla charging stations. I watched this because each time it happened, a young girl in a Tesla with California plates, would drive up and block the cars in long enough to take pictures of the parked cars. It created some brief confrontations, too, because she had no legal authority to give tickets and she was stopping people from leaving until she got a picture.It’s that proof in action that incremental innovation must happen because a small amount of people can afford these cars and a larger amount are not willing to sacrifice even so much as a parking spot to show support.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      The people without Tesla cars do not have any ownership interest in the parking spaces and are giving up nothing. The spaces and infrastructure are subsidized and built by the Tesla owners. If you order the basic model S it costs $2500 to join the Tesla charging network. Sadly many people in Connecticut have some kind of entitlement mentality when it comes to open parking spaces and then feign shock when they are ticketed and/or towed. Parking is not actually free and sometimes it is possible to encounter situations where there are no legal parking spaces left.

      1. JimHirshfield

        A fellow CT resident here. No entitlement. I know these rest areas because I drive by them every day. Most local residents have no need for these rest areas (because we refuel and eat in local towns, not on the highway). I think people are parking at Tesla charging stations because they are parking spots… and they think there are few electric cars that need those spots at that time… which is true.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          I’m not saying that the spaces are taken with malicious intent to harm others, but rather they incorrectly treat these private goods (parking spaces and charging for electric cars) as public. If it’s not harming anyone and there is still some kind of charger available in the case of someone showing up with a car, and the owner is fine with it, then I think it’s ok for now. But when it reaches the point that spaces are taken by gasoline cars and people need to charge it’s going to be problematic and the people that park there should not be surprised if they are later towed.Maybe less of an issue at a rest stop than say West Hartford center where I have seen F350 trucks egregiously parked in the electric charge station spots.

          1. JimHirshfield

            We agree. Rest area parking spaces are rarely occupied for more than (I’d guess) 10 minutes.

    2. William Mougayar

      In the office parking lot I use sometimes, there are 2 charging stations per floor, and they are often empty. Maybe one day it might be the opposite. All charging stations and a few regular spots?

      1. Matt Zagaja

        If people have Teslas with 260 mile range will they really need to charge at work as well as home? It seems like capacity is sufficient for night charging if you’re just working at the office all day. Maybe useful to have the spots for guests traveling from afar, etc. but I think we won’t need to transform the entire lot.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Night charging at home? First I’d like to see the charging current in Amperes at either 115 or 230 Volts and, then, the corresponding charging time. E.g., commonly a house has only 100 A at 230 V. The last time I did such arithmetic, it worked out about a week of such charging for the energy of a 15 gallon tank of gasoline.Besides, unless have an electrician run a heavy cable, like, say, for an electric stove, will be limited to about 20 A at 115 V. And, again, I’d like to see the charging time for enough energy to drive, say, 200 miles.

          1. Matt Zagaja

            Tesla’s site says that 110V outlets give you about 3 miles of range per hour and recommends the installation of a 240V outlet to get at least 29 miles an hour, and offers a dual-charger option you can install to get 58 miles of range in an hour. If we assume a 240V outlet only outputs 25 miles of range per hour than 8 hours of night charge will give you approximately 200 miles which seems like it should cover most commutes.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            If 110 V/hour gives 3 miles, then 240V/hour should give only about 6 miles, not 29. Something looks seriously wrong here.Also the number of Amperes for the connection remains crucial.

          3. Robert Metcalf

            It’s all laid out pretty clearly here, though there are caveats, as always:…The 3 miles/hour at 110V is based on a “typical” wall outlet, which has a 15 to 20A breaker capacity. Clearly, if you’re going to bother installing a 240V circuit, it’s going to be dedicated for this use, and at much higher current. The 29 miles/hour charging number comes from 240V @ 100A breaker (with 80A delivered current). That’s a 19kW circuit, so you’ll get 19 kWh/hour out of it. Above that, the limitation is on the car side of the equation, and it takes an optional second on-board charger to increase the charging rate.Rest assured, all the math pencils out.Also, most houses with a Tesla will have at least a 200A service. I’ve been developing solar in Los Angeles for years and rarely come across 100A services on houses over 1,500 sqft, and it’s pretty basic and cheap (especially compared to the price of a Tesla S) to upgrade electrical service.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            So, with Tesla from electric utility get 200 A service! And want not just 210 V or 230 V but full 240 V.Then want to put in a circuit with a 100 A circuit breaker and use 80% of that Amperage.Okay:We’re talking240 * 0.80 * 100 = 19,200 Watts.Then that for an hour yields charge enough for 29 miles.So, 19.2 KWh. Then at, say, $0.12 per KWh, the cost is0.12 * 19.2 = 2.30 dollarsto drive 29 miles. That’s darned efficient!Or, assuming gas at $3.60 per gallon, the $2.30 is2.30 / 3.60 = 0.639 gallons.So that is like a gasoline powered car getting29 / 0.639 = 45.4 MPGPretty good.Of course, such an electric drive has mush less waste heat, and also get some regenerative braking.For 200 miles of charge at 29 miles per hour of charging, need 200 / 29 = 6.897 hours.Okay, for someone in Manhattan parking in a garage at a spot with a charging station who never wants to drive more than 200 miles in one day, it should all work.Next question would be, just how fast could a charging station give charge enough for 200 miles? Any time over 20 minutes or so would look inconvenient, but if could get the charge time down to 20 minutes would need80 * 6.897 / ( 1 / 3 ) = 1,655 Aor240 * 80 * 6.897 / ( 1 / 3 ) = 397,267 WFor that trip to Grandmas with five rechargings at 20 minutes each, that’s an hour and forty minutes recharging. Bummer.Now can get a car with, say, a 18.5 gallon tank (say, a Corvette that I am lusting for) for gasoline and 29 MPG for a range of18.5 * 29 = 536.5 milesand time to refill the tank much less than 20 minutes. So, to Grandmas, stop once for gas.How could a Corvette get 29 MPG or some such? High compression, direct fuel injection, computer controlled mixture and ignition timing, low frontal area, low drag coefficient, light weight, and eight speed transmission with a pretty good ratio for any driving condition, e.g., highway cruising at relatively low RPM. It took a while for the internal combustion engine to get this far!So, if took a 29 MPG Corvette to Grandmas, with, say, $4.00 a gallon premium gas, then would spend900 * 4.00 / 29 = 124.14 dollarson gas. A Tesla would cost900 * 0.12 * 80 * 240 / ( 1000 * 29 ) = 71.50 dollarsSo, the Tesla saves124.14 – 71.50 = 52.64 dollarsCute.Hmm …. On a hot day, a Tesla will still need auto A/C, and that can take some horsepower and, thus, reduce the range between charges. And on a cold day, a Tesla may have so little waste heat that it has none to heat the car so will have to use electric heating and, again, reduce the range between charges.

        2. William Mougayar

          Not sure what the right ratio is, but I guess that convenience and choice are part of it.

  27. LE

    saw that they had installed two Chargepoint electric vehicle charging stationsWhat happens with charging stations if someone else gets to it first? To me this presents what I would call “swim lane anxiety”. You go to the pool to do laps and have to wonder if you will get an open lane or if someone slow will join the lane and annoy you.With gas filling if someone is in front of you you wait but they are soon gone and you get a filling. What system has been worked out with these chargers at lots like yours to insure that doesn’t happen? Do people really wait with their cars and then move them? Or is there an attendant that takes care of that? If so do you have to tip the attendant? And how many places will be able to afford someone for that task? If it’s not a commercial parking lot it’s pretty much a non starter.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Agreed. It’s a nonstarter if you can’t get your car charged.In all seriousness, you’re describing a high class problem in the sense that there are just not enough electric cars on the road for this to be an issue. Also… What’s the charge time, typically?

      1. LE

        This page:…Summary (depends on several factors (like the particular charger) see the page):- 29 miles of range per hour of charging time- 58 miles of range per hour- 170 miles of range per hour (super charger whatever)But there are other issues. There is also what I would call the conservation effect with something where the power is so scarce and such a pain in the ass. You have to worry about the power you are using. All the sudden do you want to use the seat heaters or the heater or the AC? Do you want to use the radio?You know how when you are really low on gas and aren’t sure that there is a gas station you can stop at? How do you act? You go into “super non aggressive stretch every mile mode”. I would imagine that this is magnified with a Tesla.And what if you are in NYC and want to drive out to the Hamptons? What if you get stuck in traffic? With gas you can get it anywhere and you have a large range to boot. With Tesla you have to plan and think about things like you are a fucking airline pilot needing to know what your plan b is?But then again I think there are probably some people who care about things like this:Owning an electric Model S helps reduce your carbon footprint and improve our environment for generations to come.Sure that ranks above safety for sure. When you run out of power and are stuck in Camden NJ make sure you pat yourself on the back for saving the environment.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Hamptons are only 100 miles from New York City. Can you really burn up 150 miles of extra range in a traffic jam just listening to a radio and using climate control? Sometimes you build things and edge cases are edge cases that you deal with if you get there because you probably won’t. I have had my gasoline car towed due to component failures before. A AAA membership is well worth it the peace of mind.

          1. LE

            Hamptons are only 100 miles from New York City. Can you really burn up 150 miles of extra range in a traffic jam just listening to a radio and using climate control? It’s a big country and Hamptons <–> NYC is only one case.Besides what happens if you have to swing first to Old Bridge and pick up Aunt Molly with her old lady perfume? (Then you definitely need to run the fan on high, right?)Besides buy cars for corner cases all the time.An example is owning an SUV so if you have to pickup something from Lowes you can haul it away.Another example is having 4 wheel drive for the few cases where it snows per year.It’s part of how people rationalize decision making.MY point is this is the same thing in reverse.It’s like even though a particular person isn’t sure they will exercise on vacation they might reject a hotel that doesn’t have an exercise room.

  28. Jan Schultink

    I think electrical engines and software-controlled driving does not necessarily have to go hand in hand, they are separate innovationsTesla did something right that Better Place in Israel did wrong. The Better Place car was a boring mid-class Renault priced at par with the equivalent gasoline model. Nobody had an incentive to buy it (brand allure, price) And at that pricing and disappointing sales volumes, they could not make a margin and went bankrupt. Tesla is a well-designed performance car for which you can charge a premium and buffer the extra cost. Technology will trickle down to cheaper models once sales volumes go up.Sometimes it is better to premium->mass then mass->premium.

  29. JLM

    . is what you need now, Fred. Plugless PowerYou will need to get one at your beach house also.I’ve seen two installations and they are slick. No plugging in anything.JLM.

  30. LE

    It came last week and we are enjoying driving a car built by software people.Nothing sounds less appealing to me than a car built by software people. Software people are at the top of the “white men have it all figured out” heap. Shove the beta stuff out the channel and then fix it later as complaints arrive or security bugs are found.There have been a number of weird things that have happened with my 2015 expensive car by a major manufacturer (totally new model). Strange things like the rear wiper blade randomly operating when it’s hot and not even raining when you back up. Or the motion sensor inside randomly going off (have to disable it each time until they have the patch figured out).To me the updatability of software is great until you realize that that also means they put less time and effort into making it right in the first place. So it has that unintended consequence.The other issue to me is that Tesla hasn’t been in the car business long enough or sold enough cars to hit anywhere near all the corner cases. Normally this isn’t a big deal except for the fact that safety is involved it’s not a refrigerator we are discussing. It’s someone’s life. [1][1] The last car that I bought (before the 2015) was a redone model of a long established car. They fitted it with a 7 speed manual transmission. I had the first one sold by this particular dealer. The transmission disengaged and I lost the power train. Luckily this happened on a side street. I had just been on 295s. Had it disengaged there very possibly there would have been a tragic accident that resulted. And this was from an established highly regarded car manufacturer but it was a brand new transmission in a brand new completely redone (low volume) model.

    1. JimHirshfield

      The first part of your comment supports the argument that bad cars are built currently by companies that aren’t software competent… which kinda supports the case Fred makes of being excited to drive a car made by software people. But as others point out in the comments, Tesla is likely not fairly classified as that; they’ve likely poached some highly qualified automotive veterans.

      1. LE

        The first part of your comment supports the argument that bad cars are built currently by companies that aren’t software competent…Maybe maybe not. It supports my argument that “white men don’t have it all figured out” even the “grown up” white men. This particular manufacturer I can assure you employs the best and the brightest. It is a cult brand with a huge following and is cutting edge. Not talking about Dodge or Chevy here employing the dregs of the auto industry. And they are in Germany. Lots of smart people there that haven’t been bitten by the SV bug and are happy to live in Germany. Just like not every smart person is in NYC some are in Walmart land.which kinda supports the case Fred makes of being excited to drove a car made by software peopleI’ve been working in and around software people for a long long time (and can write some simple things myself probably 100 miles south of “prosumer” level). They are famous for fucking things up and making mistakes in many cases it’s engrained in the culture. And thinking nothing will be a problem because they are binary thinkers with partly an analog problem. And they just clean up the mess and laugh about it later.they’ve likely poached some highly qualified automotive veterans.I have no doubt in my mind that they have poached some highly qualified automotive veterans. I don’t even have to google that to know that they would have done that. (Same with spacex hiring nasa people).Problem is hiring someone who worked at Boeing or even 20 people who worked at Boeing is not the same as being Boeing. You never know who is the secret sauce or ingredient and who relied on who in order to perform their magic.See if you are a comedian and you write your own jokes and you perform then we are pretty sure that if you stand up and people laugh that you are the reason. But people who work in corporations have all sorts of colleagues and support teams that make the magic. And it’s possible that if you remove that magic you don’t have the same end results. (Meaning when they go to a different company…)By the way I’m not saying it can’t be the same. I’m just saying there is a difference between being a tennis player that wins or a funny guy and a person in a corporation that wins or does a good job. (For evidence of this see what happened to Ron Johnson after he left Apple and went to JC Penney).

  31. JLM

    .While I have no opinion on the merits of self driving cars, it is not really that far out there if you take a look at aviation autopilots.A run of the mill autopilot can navigate an airplane on “roadways in the sky” (Victor airways at low altitude) flawlessly from VOR to VOR (very high frequency omni-directional radio beacons). You can even use waypoints on the Victor airways or you can make your own manually.The pilot still has to control altitude though even inexpensive Georges (pilots call autopilots George) can climb to assigned altitude and level off. The pilot has to trim and adjust the fuel-air mixture for optimum performance.All of this is done with GPS providing the spatial information. Therein may lie the short term problem with self-driving. GPS info is not current road info.JLM.

    1. LE

      it is not really that far out there if you take a look at aviation autopilots.I’m not a pilot (you are) but I’m not seeing the comparison between aviation and automobiles.There are many more things to avoid in a car, that’s obvious and many more things to take into account and almost certainly (you can confirm this or reject) much much less latitude with vehicles for error than in an airplane in the big sky.

      1. JLM

        .No doubt as it relates to the sensitivity and factor of safety. Victor airways are big fat roadways in the skies but GPS tries to keep you right in the middle no different than an Interstate highway.It is a beginning of the marriage between spatial awareness–three dimensional–and GPS. In some ways it is one dimension more complex than the idea of roads.The speeds of aircraft are much faster than cars and thus the collision avoidance margins are tighter. When I am flying at 200 knots and someone else is closing at the same rate, the time to correction is very small.It is not a perfect analogy but it is a real one.JLM.

    2. William Mougayar

      Some of this is in the realm of the recent personal drones that are becoming easier and easier to pilot via your smartphone software. You tell it to follow something, get from A to B, go there & come back, etc. It’s mission – driven. I just ordered this one from DreamQii, and can’t wait to get it delivered

      1. JLM

        .Very cool. I am fascinated but haven’t done anything yet. This may be the play for me. I will let you be the innovator and I’ll be the quick no 2.I love GoPro cameras.JLM.

        1. William Mougayar

          You’ve got the chain saw, the power washer, the truck, a dog & guns…What’s missing? A drone. You can attach your GoPro to it on the gimble.

  32. JaredMermey

    What other industries or what are the key characteristics of industries where incremental improvement is necessary for mass market adoption?Top of mind is personal finance and payments.

  33. sigmaalgebra

    I want to see a self-driving car that can (1) negotiate a one-lane, two directional driving situation with flagmen around a work site with a maintenance crew, (2) honor a demand by a police car to pull over, (3) negotiate a situation with police directing traffic around an accident, (4) drive safely on icy roads, (5) negotiate an intersection that has not been carefully ‘mapped’ in advance and with an up to date copy of the map, e.g., to know where the traffic signs and traffic lights are, (6) drive safely following the defensive driving rule “don’t get boxed in”, (7) notice and effectively respond to a tire on an 18 wheel truck coming apart and about to create a serious road hazard, (8) notice and effectively respond to some cargo about to fall off the back of a truck and create a dangerous situation, (9) suddenly see a car in same lane but driving in the wrong direction and about to cause a head on collision and respond effectively (I’ve had to do that twice), (10) correctly read and handle wording (including on the road surface mostly covered by traffic in front) and/or arrows and/or signs that say that say (A) a turn is required, (B) a lane is about to end, (C) no right turn on red, (11) know that right turn on red is permitted in Dutchess County, NY but not in NYC, etc., (12) notice and avoid a car that looks like it has a drunk driver, (13) while moving, wash camera lens as needed to see when traffic is throwing up mud, I.e., some of driving actually requires ability to read and understand English, flagmen, police directing traffic, detour signs, some intelligence, etc.

    1. Sat Neni

      Well played, LE. And also understands when to speed up while in a hurry and to slow down when not.I would also want to the driverless car to automatically put a lipstick in my lips when I need it.Basically the driveless car should pretty much do everything a ‘driver’ does. And this cannot be done through incremental innovation

    2. JLM

      .Very insightful.Well played.JLM.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Thanks. That was a fast list.I left out, driving west at dusk and stop behind a car stopped at a red traffic light. Then, it just so happens that the line from the camera in the car to the traffic light to the sun is a straight line so that looking at the traffic light is looking directly into the sun. Then, maybe the optics and software to read the traffic light will fail.A human can handle the situation just by knowing or just observing some things about the intersection and watching the other traffic, say, the cross traffic and the east bound traffic or maybe a car, west bound but without the straight line, that could read the traffic light.Broadly, we just do not have software for anything like general intelligence. Heck, I doubt that dogs, cats, raccoons, deer, etc. have learned actually to negotiate intersections with traffic lights; I’m not looking for general purpose software to be as smart as a kitty cat that is just excellent at negotiating woods, farms, suburbs, and even parts of some urban environments — thus I’m not holding my breath waiting for car software to do so. E.g., kitty cats are just fantastic at finding their way home; software in a car could do that? I know; I know; the car software would use GPS and a full and highly detailed street map, but, again, that’s not much like how a human would do it.Gee, I wonder if a self driving car could ask for and use directions to the Won Ton Chinese restaurant? I know; I know; the car would do a database search of the GPS coordinates of all Chinese restaurants in the city and then use the detailed map. Again, this isn’t really self driving but a client computer of a lot of servers accessed over the Internet.I forgot: These smart cars, will they really know about one-way streets? What about getting in and out of the parking lot of, say, a restaurant that has little signs saying where to enter and where to exit?If want self driving cars, then re-engineer the roads, parking lots, etc. to have electronics to send lots of navigation and control signals to the software on the cars. Then the self driving cars are essentially on some electronic tracks but, then, can only work on streets with all the special electronics.To me, claims that we will soon have a lot of self driving cars, on ordinary roads, is a lot of superficial, hot air hype, raw material for news media as light entertainment. Send them a jumbo 24 ounce bottle of soapy WonderBubble complete with a little ring on a short stick. There should be a lot left over from year 2000.I’m reminded of the good ol’ boy claim that down at the lake with their fishing rod they caught 30 bream (a small, flat fish with a tiny, bony mouth) in 30 minutes. To check this out, just focus the check — yes, yes, maybe sounds possible until notice that can’t even unhook 30 bream in 30 minutes!Sometimes it is possible to write software to do work where humans use their general intelligence. A good example is chess. So, the implication is that people good at chess are really smart so that software good at chess must be really smart also.Nope: The chess software is dumber than paint. All it does is have a little well understood chess strategy programmed in and then enumerate, with some heuristics, say, position evaluations, 1-2 dozen levels in the tree of future game possibilities. So, a chess program can play good chess but using techniques not much like what good human players use.This lesson is quite general across having computers do well at some of what humans do.Machine intelligence? Laugh so hard might crack a femur.It is possible to have software do better than humans at some things, but that doesn’t mean that the software is intelligent in any sense comparable with humans. Back to it!

    3. ShanaC

      I think the google car can do this

      1. sigmaalgebra

        My understanding of the Google self driving car is thatit works only on streets very carefully mapped, downto 1 cm or so. Then mostly the car is running on someelectronic tracks. Yes, I can believe that it hassome cameras, audio, microwave, etc. to detect unexpected obstacles.But on an unmapped road? Or with situations where some human intelligence is assumed and needed?

    4. realposter

      11) European car companies like Audi and Mercedes are working with Euro governments to make traffic signals communicate with their cars – so that shouldn’t be a problem once they sort that most other cases that you listed – I rather drive myself.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        in most other cases that you listed – I rather drive myself.So would I! That’s why I listed those cases, that is, because it appears to me that most of those cases are too difficultto address with just software for a long time.For redoing all the traffic lights so that cars can read the lights electronically instead of just optically like humans do, okay, that will help a little. But, as I hope my list of cases illustrated, really there is much more to consider.My bottom line point was, roads are built for cars that havehuman, intelligent drivers, and on such roads that human intelligence is often really needed. Writing software to be that intelligent is a big enough laugh to crack a femur.

        1. realposter

          got ya

  34. Donna Brewington White

    Some chasms are more easily crossed than others.

  35. Frank112916

    You’re confusing incremental implementation with incremental innovation. While this may seem trivial it’s not. Incremental innovation will lead us nowhere in terms of markedly being able to improve our lives. Innovation should be transformative, not iterative. Imagine if someone had tried to “iterate” on the horse and buggy. Even incremental implementation is flawed in a world where technology can change our lives so rapidly.The problem you are talking about is an issue with the human condition, NOT a model we should strive for. We should strive to condition people to be less averse to change. As an example;The whole issue with thwarting global climate change is that people are extremely change averse and it’s slowly killing us.Another example is the electric car and car charging stations: Imagine if instead of incremental implementation the charging stations were ubiquitous. You’d have ordered your Tesla long ago.You may think the incremental approach makes sense because you and others are scared of ceding control to a robot. This isn’t because the technology doesn’t work or there’s an inherent flaw in the tech that makes it unsafe. From a business and short term investment standpoint this rationale makes sense because big bets can fail miserably. However THAT is the problem.I’m very worried that the pace of innovation will (and likely already has) outstrip our willingness to change and adapt to these innovations and we will miss so many opportunities to transform, fundamentally, the way the world works. The self-driving car is a prime example where the benefits outweigh the costs but we are too change averse to allow it to happen at scale.

    1. ShanaC

      why did our willingness to change change?

  36. Tony Hue

    If ever a day comes when I can let a machine parallel park for me on a steep San Francisco slope with inches to spare from my neighbor’s bumper, I will welcome our robot overlords with open arms.

    1. ShanaC

      that’s already a feature on many cars today that you can buy from at least one US manufacture (I just don’t remember which one, because I can’t drive!)

    2. fredwilson

      damn. that is a 10 in terms of degree of diffculty!

  37. ShanaC

    I think the incremental approach is happening because insurance makers want it, plus there are systemic issues (like self driving cars probably work a lot better when there are lots of them networked together and talking to each other about how to drive themself)Other than that, I actually don’t think the incremental approach is better. I think this is largely us losing our taste for taking on risky technology. which is sort of a pity.

  38. Mario Cantin

    “The time has come and I just got one”, wow, that must be nice. More power to you. Sincerely. You just further motivated me to walk through fucking walls if I have to to get there, so thank you. Very nice post. The idea of incremental innovation, at times, makes total sense.

  39. Jonathan Libov

    Bryan Caplan made a good point the other day: “driverless commercial vehicles seem almost sure to precede driverless personal vehicles.”…

  40. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think for all our sakes, self-driving cars should be made out of Nerf material.

  41. kirklove

    Nary a mention of your inspiration for this post. Sigh :(Though I do agree! 😉

    1. fredwilson

      not an an intentional diss

      1. kirklove


        1. fredwilson

          ah, my inability to recognize humor bug is back

  42. Tereza

    Indeed with moving vehicles, it’s better for ‘fail fast’ to be ‘fail small’. LOL.

  43. Nick Ambrose

    Nice! I’d love a Tesla but for me the price has to come down a bit first.Agreed on adding these features incrementally … I think that will make it much easier for people to deal with.Then I think it will also probably come to the “professional” driving people first (right before it obsoletes them) — Truck drivers, cab drivers … people who drive a lot and could (initially at least) benefit from autopilot that works 90% of the time …

  44. haoyuan2014

    Phase III clinical study of complicated intra-abdominal infections within AstraZeneca’s new antibiotic drugs CAZ-AVI treatment was a complete successAugust 21, 2014 News – Phase III clinical study AstraZeneca recently announced the development of new antibiotics CAZ-AVI (ceftazidime-avibactam) treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI) achieved satisfactory results.Caspofungin Acetate, The results showed that CAZ-AVI in the treatment of cIAI patients (including cephalosporins by anti-bacteria cIAI statin-induced) when equally effective with meropenem.The phase III clinical study using the RECLAIM-1 and RECLAIM-2 experimental design. Active ingredients CAZ-AVI is constituted by the treatment of serious bacterial infections cephalosporin statins and β-lactamase inhibitor new avibactam. CAZ-AVI in avibactam statins can protect cephalosporins are not decomposed by the resistant bacteria secreted β-lactamase, thereby maintaining bacterial toxicity. The antibiotic used to treat a range of drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. The clinical study also evaluated different doses of CAZ-AVI in clinical efficacy and safety. The results showed that the clinical efficacy of meropenem CAZ-AVI, the patients were randomly assigned basically administered 28-35 days in recovery.Micafungin sodium , While its side effects are not higher than that of meropenem, clinical CAZ-AVI showing the main side effects were diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and fever.AstraZeneca said researchers excited about the results, but also revealed that currently CAZ-AVI research hospital for urinary tract infections and pneumonia also is well underway.Ten years ago, due to lower profits and diverse variety of antibiotics, including many pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca all have to exit the antibiotics market.Febuxostat, However, in recent years, drug-resistant bacteria in the global blowout situation, so that these pharmaceutical giants and national medical management department aware of a serious crisis and opportunity, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have re-return to the market, devote their energies to the development of new antibiotics.

  45. Adam Malone

    Riffing on the idea of incremental innovation and easing the transition from manual to self-driving, I think that it would be helpful to see what the car is sensing and how the car makes its decisions.As a form factor, I’m leaning towards projection on the windshield – eg showing lanes in light green, other cars in a soft blue, and pedestrians in a bright red. The driver can choose to see the AR projection in manual drive mode to help make decisions, and can monitor the projection while in autopilot mode.After a few autopilot sessions, some will feel confident enough to read a book or nod off, while others may need months to feel comfortable enough to take their eyes off the display / road.

  46. William Mougayar

    If you bought the stock at $60 when I also thought about it (but didn’t), you are doing well.

  47. William Mougayar

    Little known fact. Musk didn’t start Tesla. He gradually bought his way into the company via successive financings, and was made CEO later. Great story.

  48. Steven Kane

    Yup absolutely. But no more so than Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ford, Toyota et al?